Sunday 10 November 2013

Book Review: Simple Crochet

Today I'm reviewing Simple Crochet by Sara Sinaguglia - part of the "Creative Makers" series that includes Simple Sewing which I reviewed last year.


Now I have to admit up front that reviewing a crochet book is a little tricky for me - I am a total beginner at crochet (I have made a simple blanket but nothing else) and can't really tell if the patterns look easy to follow, or how easy or otherwise they might be, I am purely going on how the book and the designs look and whether it's full of things I'd like to learn how to make.

So... like Simple Sewing, this is a lovely hardback with yummy matte pages and gorgeously-coloured endpapers (in this case, mauve). Simple Crochet includes "more than 35 vintage-vibe projects for your handmade life" divided into the following chapters: kitchen, living room, bedroom, bathroom, children's rooms and out and about. The book, the chapters and each project have a personal introduction where Sara chats about her inspiration, etc.

There's a section on crochet basics with lots of step by step photos showing how to do the stitches (though I have to admit that I can never understand crochet stitches without seeing a video or having someone show me what to do!). Each project includes a guide to tension, the finished size of the project and the level of difficulty.

The book uses a soft, quite muted palette throughout - lots of vintage-y pastels and pale greys and beiges. Overall the "vintage" look this book is going for is more frilly doily than brightly coloured granny squares. I do like a bit more colour in my crafting, but though I might make some different colour choices if/when I make some of these projects the book itself is very pretty.

There are some actual doily patterns in this book, along with other retro items like pot holders and jug covers and ideas for adding a bit of frill to household items - e.g. little "collars" for bud vases. There are also patterns for slippers, scarves, gloves, a blanket and a little doll as well as apple cosies (that most "love it or loathe it" of crochet projects!) and a leather steering wheel cover that's straight out of the 70s.


There are also quite a lot of projects where a fabric item is embellished with crochet motifs or trims. For example: there's a table runner with crochet motifs, a chair cushion with crochet buttons, napkins with crochet edging, pillowcases with crochet edging, an iPad case with crochet motifs, a handbag with crochet motifs etc etc.

All these items do look nice, but I think if you went into this book expecting it to be 100% crochet projects you may be disappointed. Some of the "embellish something with some crochet" projects involve buying and embellishing store-bought items, and others involve sewing the items yourself (sadly, there are no diagrams for this, just text instructions).

I actually think this book would have worked better if these projects were specifically presented as ways to use crochet motifs and edgings. If the projects in the book that involve crocheting a motif and using it to decorate something were collected into a chapter called "crochet motifs" it would feel like a great resource as there are lots of different motifs (all lovely small things that are great ways of trying out new stitches if you're learning) and some lovely project ideas for using the finished motifs. Ditto the different crochet edgings.

As it is though, you may just flick through this and think "oh, yet another fabric item with some motifs sewn on it". This is a bit of a shame as there are some very nice ideas in here!


I would also have liked to have seen some diagrams for the sewing portions of the projects. In the book Sara even thanks two friends for "patiently showing me how to sew (it only took me five attempts to sew the zip into the iPad case!)" - she needed help and five attempts, but we're just given some text instructions, which is a bit frustrating.

I know I could consult a sewing book for clear instructions on how to sew in a zip, but if this isn't the sort of book you already own it would be very annoying having to buy one just to accompany this crochet book. Again, I think this is a bit of a missed opportunity to have made this book really strong.


Overall, I think this is a nice book with a few flaws but a pretty, vintage feel. If you're a fan of this kind of vintage look, and you're happy sewing as well as crocheting you'll be able to get a lot of use out of this book.

Simple Crochet is published by Mitchell Beazley. RRP £16.99. It's available from Amazon UK, Amazon USA, The Book Depository and many other bookshops.

[Disclaimer: the publisher sent me a review copy of this book and the Amazon & Book Depository links in this post are affiliate links]


Anonymous said...

Did they include patterns by one designer only? They should have gone for more diversity.

Bugs and Fishes said...

Yes, this is a book written by one designer, not a compilation of projects by different people. Both kinds of books can be great, I think, - the former usually gives you a strong sense of one person's style, and the latter a mix of different styles to choose from.